I’ve seen some blog posts and comments, as well as heard comments on podcasts, about how Martin Luther was a heretic and that he ruined Christianity in the West, which was universal and united.
Such historical ignorance is astounding, especially when the people I hear it coming from are usually smarter than average. I really boils down to the lament that “things were better back then” and “if only we could go back, then it would be better”.
Unfortunately, that is never the case. If you are any good in your studies of history or just the Bible in general, you’d know that human nature is the same at all times. Sure the technologies change, the nationalities change, and settlement rise and fall, but humanity more or less is the same since the Garden incident.
So no, things weren’t better back when the Catholic Church had united most of Europe. This is because if they were better, then why would Martin Luther have a need to break away in the first place?
Martin Luther, you see, did not wish to initially break from the Catholic Church. But the institution had become corrupt and engaged in the practice of providing salvation through money in order to fund excessive projects. That was the basis of Luther’s 95 theses. It was, in effect, a series of complaints about the corruption that had taken place within the Church.
I have seen this same scenario play out in my own time. From SFWA’s campaign against Vox Day to the break of the Anglican Church from the Episcopal Church, institutions which become corrupted often break into splinter factions. The break is usually not pretty and often involves great sacrifices.
But even more astounding is the complete and utter denial of the simple fact that there was already was a great schism in the church beforehand with the Orthodox Church in the East. In fact, it was the Catholic Church that broke from them because at the time, the last remnants of the Empire were housed in Constantinople. So the Catholic Church was created because they didn’t want to answer to the Eastern Emperor.
I’ve also heard that the Church of England was created because King Henry VIII wanted to divorce his wife. And while that is true, the fact remains that despite its immoral start, the Church of England successfully established itself all over Africa and in parts of South America and East Asia. Those are souls that have been saved who otherwise may not have been had Henry VIII decided to be beholden to foreign spiritual leader.
Man is falliable and the institutions he creates, even the Christian ones, will break apart and be destroyed in the wake of corruption, incompetence, and arrogance. So whenever some idiot Catholic calls Martin Luther a heretic and says that things were better before his break with the Catholic Church, I say that they are damn fools.
In a thousand years, there may not be a Catholic Church or a Church of England. There will be a church in some form, but it will be one that is more than likely completely unrecognizable by today’s standards. This is the nature of mankind really.
So save your stupid and petty statements and try and see the bigger picture. And note that the “Catholic” Church is to universalism as the “People’s Republic of China” is to democracy.